Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working across borders face increased accountability demands. Although many have proposed ways of changing accountability practices, the debate is rarely informed by leaders' perspectives of how accountability is perceived and practiced across different organizational settings. In interviews with NGO leaders we find aspirations to make accountability more meaningful and integrated, in particular by listening more to stakeholders other than donors. However, these aspirations are rarely put in practice and leaders continue to highlight traditional means such as financial accounting. This gap is particularly pronounced for smaller organizations and reflects an increasingly competitive environment shaped by rating agencies and a focus on financial metrics. To move from aspirations to practice, NGOs have to be willing to share more meaningful information about their work and outcomes with stakeholders. Practicing transparency that empowers beneficiaries is central to effective organizational learning and balancing demands from different stakeholders.

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Keywords accountability, leadership, NGOs, transparency
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Journal Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Schmitz, H.P. (Hans Peter), Raggo, P, & Bruno-van Vijfeijken, T. (Tosca). (2012). Accountability of Transnational NGOs: Aspirations vs. Practice. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41(6), 1175–1194. doi:10.1177/0899764011431165